A nootropic stack combines two or more nootropic supplements to provide specific cognitive-enhancing benefits.
The best nootropic stacks, or smart drugs, allow users to amplify the features of a singular nootropic substance.
These stacks can come preformulated, or you could devise your own. However, with so many choices available, it can be hard to decide what to include in your stack.
To take the guesswork out of stacking, we have listed the six best nootropic stacks below that can take your cognitive function and health to the next level.
6 Best Nootropic Stacks On The Market
- Mind Lab Pro — Best Nootropic Stack Overall
- NooCube — Best Nootropic Stack For Memory
- Performance Lab Mind — Best Nootropic Stack For Energy and Motivation
- Qualia Mind — Best Amount of Natural Nootropics In a Premade Stack
- Performance Lab Sleep — Best Nootropic Stack For Sleep
- Onnit Alpha Brain — Best Nootropic Stack For The Caffeine Sensitive
Best Nootropic Stack Overall
The best nootropic stack will leave nothing to chance. It will cleverly pack in all the elements pertaining to cognition, motivation, sleep, relaxation, energy, and neuroprotection. Plus, a quick look at its ingredient profile will show you antioxidants, vitamins, and herbs that can do it all.
Mind Lab Pro promises peak mental performance with its cleverly blended mix of amino acids, phospholipids, healing herbs, vital vitamins, and other well-dosed ingredients.
Mind Lab Pro promotes creativity, attention with its phosphatidylserine, bacopa, L-theanine, and citicoline content.
This immense brainpower is complemented equally with the ability to regulate mood by altering neurotransmitter levels. Together the two mechanisms create the effect of a relaxed but alert state of mind.
Added benefits of Mind Lab Pro include neuroprotection via citicoline, neurogenesis via Maritime Pine Bark extract, and synaptic plasticity via phosphatidylserine.
What We Like
- Comprehensive nootropic stack
- Complete ingredient transparency
- Carries a clean label
- Supports short and long term cognition
- Manufactured in cGMP and FDA-approved facilities
What We Don’t Like
- Some users report delayed results.
Best Nootropic Stack For Memory
To keep your memory sharp and focus up and running, you need to process information quickly and accurately. However, with a bit of help from the top nootropics for memory, you can supercharge your thinking skills, so look at our following recommendation.
Noocube is a cognitive enhancing nootropic stack free of caffeine truly captures our attention as it relies on other non-stimulant ingredients for optimal mental performance.
This premade stack featuring easy-to-swallow capsules follows the usual drill of including nootropic staples like Alpha GPC, Bacopa, and amino acid l-tyrosine l-theanine to put you in a high-performance zone.
But the most significant selling point of Noocube is perhaps the absence of caffeine among its ingredient profile.
This sits really well with people looking for a nootropic without stimulants yet getting all the benefits of a comprehensive stack.
What We Like
- Comprehensive nootropic stack
- Caffeine-free supplement
- Uses scientifically-backed ingredients
- Works on multiple levels
- Free shipping and offers a money-back guarantee
What We Don’t Like
- To some people, Huperzine A may present side effects.
Best Nootropic Stack For Energy and Motivation
Do fatigue and weariness get the better of you daily? Is your brain begging you for some stamina support to make it through the day? If so, then get your body working with high-quality, low-risk nootropics to boost energy and motivation.
Featuring a vegan-friendly nootropic option, Performance Lab Mind offers neuroprotection, promotes cerebral circulation, and assists neurogenesis in all the right doses.
Using leading nootropics like citicoline, phosphatidylserine, and l-tyrosine, you get the power-packed punch of energy and motivation that will keep you in the driver’s seat all day long.
Pair these up with the powerful benefits of Maritime Pine Bark extract, and you get a winning combination for memory, focus, concentration, and relaxation.
With a daily dose of Performance Lab Mind, you can be sure to enjoy all the benefits of a top-tier nootropic without the risk of side effects.
What We Like
- No stimulants
- No bulking agents
- Safe to use
- 30-day, money-back guarantee
What We Don’t Like
- Only available from the official website
Best Amount of Natural Nootropics In a Premade Stack
If you can get the formula right, then bigger is better. By choosing the best nootropics, you can hack your mind and skyrocket productivity. With our next recommendation, you get plenty of nootropic power packed into tiny pills.
Any high-performing individual looking to upgrade their brainpower can get everything they want with Qualia Mind with its all-inclusive nootropic formula.
As a nootropic stack, Qualia Mind is an amalgamation of caffeine, l-theanine, and l-tyrosine, and acetyl-l-carnitine, paired with 20 other potent substances.
Its impressive lineup of carefully selected ingredients lets Qualia Mind deliver fast-acting nootropic benefits of increased focus, improved memory recall, and sustained energy without any spikes or crashes.
We know this product works by looking at the several positive user testimonials and its ingredient profile, testifying its effectiveness.
What We Like
- Most comprehensive nootropic supplement
- Yields fast-acting results
- Safe to use
What We Don’t Like
- Caffeine and huperzine A can present side effects
- Seven pills per dose is a lot to take
- Much pricier than the competition
Best Nootropic Stack For Sleep
When you need a little help with sleeping quality, a stack that contains nootropics for sleep with supporting ingredients can come in handy. With the right balance of sedative effects and hormone regulation, we have a premium product for you.
Working without the stimulant mechanism of caffeine, Performance Lab Sleep lets your mind and body relax without causing any morning grogginess.
This nootropic also targets vital areas of brain cell and tissue regeneration to boost recovery during sleep. Nootropic staples like L-tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin get to work without the interference of any additives or extras.
With the added benefits of relaxing tense muscles, regulating blood pressure, and serotonin production, you can be sure to rest easy and wake up feeling refreshed the following day.
Performance Lab Sleep may be the antidote you’re looking for to address all kinds of sleep issues and concerns.
What We Like
- Uses natural melatonin
- Caffeine and allergen-free
- Non-addictive supplement
What We Don’t Like
- The cost is higher
- May cause some digestive discomfort
Best Nootropic Stack For The Caffeine Sensitive
For a boost of energy but without the crash and burn effect, a caffeine-free supplement goes a long way. You still get the performance boost you need but without the concern of sensitivity.
Making good use of highly effective ingredients like vitamin B6 for neurotransmitter synthesis, Alpha GPC for cognition and neuroprotection, and phosphatidylserine for supporting brain health, Onnit Alpha Brain is a standout blend of nootropic supplements.
And let’s not forget, l-theanine, the ingredient directly involved in alpha wave generation, an amino acid sourced from green tea. Throw in the mix l-tyrosine, and you’ve got a spectacular product that performs on every level.
But the appeal of Alpha Brain doesn’t end there. It is also a caffeine-free supplement for people with caffeine sensitivity or others who wish to limit their caffeine intake.
What We Like
- Caffeine-free supplement
- Fairly priced product
What We Don’t Like
- Hides ingredients in a proprietary blend
- Some ingredients are underdosed
- Some elements are not backed by science
What Makes a Good Nootropic Stack That Works?
Stacking is a widespread practice to get the most out of individual nootropics by pairing them up with others. But there is a lot of science behind stacking.
For example, simply throwing in random nootropics together won’t do. If anything, this presents the risk of severe side effects and makes the stack potentially dangerous.
Instead, to create the best nootropic stacks, neurohackers consider the following factors that will determine the effectiveness of the stack:
Targets a Particular Outcome
Nootropic stacks are often formulated for a specific purpose, be it stress reduction, focus enhancement, or memory improvement.
For example, if boosting dopamine is the primary objective, then look for l-tyrosine as an ingredient in your stack. Or, if you’re looking to make up for a nutrient deficiency for, say, b vitamins, then you could get a b-complex supplement to resolve the issue.
These stacks are devised into categories based on their outcome to enhance one function, such as stacks for memory and focus, stacks for energy, stacks for motivation, and so on.
In this case, stacking nootropics together yields a more magnified effect by creating an alliance between different substances.
Things to consider for creating synergy include looking for cofactors for cellular processes, bioavailability enhancers, neurotransmitter promoters, and nutritional precursors.
The best nootropic stack for synergy that comes to mind instantly is caffeine and l-theanine.
Or, take another look at the popular aniracetam / CDP choline combo. Aniracetam increases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to increase attention, memory, and motivation. CDP choline magnifies these effects while protecting the brain and working as an antioxidant.
The synergistic effect provides extra choline that amplifies aniracetam’s performance making it one of the best nootropics stacks.
In this example, different ingredients benefit the same nootropic effect.
A stack that contains citicoline and bacopa, for instance, works wonders for memory. Whereas citicoline delivers raw choline for acetylcholine production, bacopa improves the brain’s acetylcholine status by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase.
This combination not only improves the amount of acetylcholine present but sustains it for longer, improving memory and learning capacity.
To enhance brain longevity, two complementary substances are maritime pine bark extract and lion’s mane mushroom.
Maritime pine bark extract contains proanthocyanidins that boost cerebral circulation, and flavonoids in the plant increase BDNF. Lion’s mane stimulates NGF production that in turn promotes neural growth and connectivity.
Together, pine bark and lion’s mane work towards the joint causes of neurogenesis and neuroprotection by targeting similar bio mechanisms of reducing free radicals, promoting BDNF, and NGF.
Complements and Avoids Negative Interactions
Here, stacking nootropics complements the way one supplement affects the other. Successful stacking will also ensure that ingredients round each other off nicely without canceling their benefits.
To err on the side of caution, effective stacking keeps things simple. This implies that the fewer the components, the better the stack.
Even when you look at a premium quality nootropics stack like Performance Lab Mind, it’s easy to see that it comes with only four ingredients compressed into tiny capsules. Others on the market may contain anywhere from two to five components.
The best nootropics don’t necessarily showcase a more significant number of nutrients, making it easier to avoid interactions and give you more control over the items you use.
Best Standalone Nootropic Supplements
Some of the best nootropics can carry the load all by themselves. They share some standard features, such as cross the blood-brain barrier, making them more bioavailable.
They are generally considered safe to use by most people and boast multiple cognitive-enhancing features.
All these supplements work great on their own and even better when used for stacking with other ingredients.
Alpha GPC is a choline compound found naturally in the body. It is perhaps one of the best nootropics having a good tolerance and safety for long-term cognitive function as a supplement.
Research indicates that a choline fortified diet can boost memory and slow down memory loss associated with aging (1).
Oral doses of Alpha GPC have been studied to assist brain and blood choline levels within 2 hours of consumption.
This helps in producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is the primary brain chemical to become affected In Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why much of the research on Alzheimer’s prevention includes nutrients that boost acetylcholine levels in the body (2).
Alpha GPC may also help fight fatigue while increasing stamina. Some research indicates it positively affect mood, incentive, and the sensation of feeling pleasure.
This dopaminergic effect of Alpha GPC has also been considered a potential treatment for cognitive issues like Parkinson’s disease, which are dopamine-related.
Alpha GPC is a preferred source of choline, given its bioavailability. It can readily cross the blood-brain barrier allowing it to take quick action in the brain and get easily absorbed in the bloodstream.
Historically, bacopa monnieri has been used for improving cognitive function along with its adaptogen and anxiolytic properties.
Much of this effect comes from its active compounds known as bacosides which studies show to be potent against oxidative damage and age-related cognitive decline (3).
Bacosides also possess the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, making them more bioavailable in the brain. This feature makes taking bacopa monnieri supplements one of the best options for treating medical disorders related to cognition.
Some common uses in this regard include using bacopa for issues like anxiety and depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Bacopa monnieri also acts as a nervine that offers nervous system support by lowering stress and anxiety levels. In this capacity, it helps lower cortisol levels and performs as a natural stress reliever.
Also, the benefits of bacopa monnieri offer neuroprotective properties. Bacosides in the plant have antioxidant features that help protect the health of brain cells and tissues. Studies show bacopa monnieri supplementation to reduce the effect of oxidative stress and improve cellular health.
Another healing aspect of Bacopa monnieri is its adaptogenic activity. It can help lower heart rate, which is beneficial for managing anxiety, and regulate neurotransmitter levels to promote mood, motivation, and productivity (4).
CDP choline, also known as citicoline, is a compound produced naturally by the body. It is an integral component of cell membranes in the brain and essential to making acetylcholine.
CDP choline delivers a double whammy of benefits when it gets broken down into cytidine and choline instead of other choline forms. This mechanism helps it navigate the blood-brain barrier easily, where once again, it forms into citicoline.
As a nootropic supplement, CDP choline shows promise for helping with various aspects of cognition, including memory recall, attention, and motor speed.
Citicoline has been used widely for preserving overall brain health and well-being. It also impacts the function of brain cells during or after brain injury. One of the mechanisms behind this is the ability of CDP choline to improve blood flow to the brain (5).
Citicoline also offers neuroprotection by regulating movement across cell membranes. This prevents harmful substances from entering the cells while allowing nutrients and oxygen in (6).
In a different nootropic capacity, citicoline helps regulate important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine.
All these are essential for balancing mood and memory, so keeping levels in check will help keep up the energy, motivation, productivity, and creativity. The same will also keep depression at bay.
Caffeine is the most used stimulant in the world. It quickly dispatches messages between the brain and body, enhancing alertness, focus, wakefulness, and creativity in users.
As an energy booster, caffeine acts as stimulant of central nervous system that enhances mental and physical performance. Not only does it deliver more energy to the body, but it also manipulates brain chemistry to make you feel less tired.
Caffeine boosts brain health via a few different mechanisms. For instance, first off is its role as an adenosine antagonist.
Adenosine works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, but caffeine blocks adenosine receptors from binding. So, instead of winding down, the brain and body experience sustained alertness and wakefulness.
Caffeine also stimulates dopamine release, which accounts for the pleasant feeling experienced with the first cup of your morning coffee.
The other big thing caffeine does is improve physical endurance. Studies show it to be very effective for high-intensity exercise and power sports.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom is a nootropic best known for cognition-boosting benefits and offering immune-strengthening support.
This healing mushroom gets most of its potency from two of its active compounds called hericenones and erinacines. Both are involved in neurogenesis and neuroprotection for optimizing brain health.
Hericenones, on the one hand, help the brain generate more nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is needed for the maintenance and growth of neurons.
Erinacines encourage neuron production in the human brain and boost neuronal health and survival.
Several neurological disorders are triggered by neuronal degradation over time, and factors like NGF may help prevent their onset (7).
Another benefit of Lion’s mane mushroom is its role in synaptic plasticity. In neuroscience, this refers to the ability of the brain to change its structure and neuronal connections over time.
These mechanisms are directly linked to learning and memory, and any degradation will lead to a decline in cognitive function.
Animal studies show that supplementation with lion’s mane mushroom may avert such neural degeneration (8).
For immune support, lion’s mane mushroom has the anti-inflammatory activity to reduce excessive nitric oxide levels, regulate prostaglandin production, and lower oxidative stress.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
N-acetyl L-tyrosine is a well-known nootropic that provides mental clarity and focus, specifically under stress.
It is a more bioavailable form of the amino acid l-tyrosine, quickly crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Stress can quickly deplete neurotransmitters involved in mental processing speed, memory, as well as mood regulation.
When this happens, N-acetyl L-tyrosine becomes involved in producing catecholamines that are needed for healthy brain chemistry.
With its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, NALT engages in catecholamine synthesis and restores neurotransmitter levels.
As such, NALT supplements can help improve cognition in stressful situations. Studies show that as tasks become more complex, those taking NALT supplements focus better than others.
L-tyrosine also improves mood and helps with anxiety and depression management.
L-theanine is a green tea-derived amino acid often used in nootropic stacks for its calming and anxiolytic effects.
Well-studied for its nootropic advantage, the benefits of amino acid l-theanine are that it contains active compounds like catechins and flavonoids, which assist in working on different aspects of brain health.
L-theanine is also chock full of antioxidants that can help prevent cellular wear and tear and oxidative stress in the brain.
These antioxidant effects are also helpful for boosting immunity, while its anti-inflammatory potential lends a helping hand to further reinforce the body’s immune response.
Regarding brain wave frequency, l-theanine possesses the unique ability to increase Alpha waves in the brain. This mechanism produces wakeful relaxation making people feel alert, attentive, and focused, minus the element of anxiety (9).
L-theanine also aces the process of managing optimal quantities of essential neurotransmitters. The most important amongst these is GABA, a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.
By promoting calming neurotransmitters, l-theanine regulates stress and anxiety, mood and emotions and promotes better sleep (10).
One of the best nootropic stacks often recommended is to use l-theanine paired with caffeine. Together, the two nootropics develop a synergy that’s hard to beat.
Whereas caffeine delivers instant pick-me-up effects, l-theanine counters any spikes in excitatory responses without affecting energy levels.
Rhodiola Rosea, often used in the best nootropic stacks, contains a whopping 140 chemical components exhibiting one of the most diverse nutrient profiles.
For nootropic purposes, however, two of its compounds have received the most significant attention.
The first of these is rosavin, known as the main active component in Rhodiola Rosea, while the second is salidroside, studied for giving Rhodiola its neuroprotective features.
Rhodiola Rosea is also particularly renowned for reducing stress and fatigue. Like certain other adaptogen nootropics, Rhodiola lowers cortisol levels helping with stress management.
At the same time, it can also increase serotonin and dopamine levels which help with emotion regulation.
Fatigue-wise, Rhodiola Rosea has been used to ward off and prevent weariness resulting from low energy. Some studies indicate its success in reducing fatigue symptoms (11).
Phosphatidylserine is a vital brain constituent making up a significant portion of the brain’s fat reserves. It is an integral building block of cell membranes responsible for maintaining fluidity and improving glucose metabolism.
For cognitive function, phosphatidylserine benefits to all aspects of brain performance. It has also been shown to ward off stress-related effects and prevent or at least delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline (12).
PS has excellent absorption capabilities, allowing it to cross the blood-brain barrier and present its effects in the brain. It has been tested as a proven memory booster, especially for the elderly, with positive results for memory, focus, verbal recall, and lifting mood (13).
It is also being investigated as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, given its nootropic effects. For Parkinson’s, PS can help boost the amount of dopamine in the system and improve mood and brain function.
PS is also known to downregulate cortisol release in stressed individuals by improving mood and lowering irritability.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Docosahexaenoic acid is one of the main omega 3 fatty acids needed for optimal health and various brain functions. It is also the most abundant omega 3 in the brain.
In a nootropic capacity, docosahexaenoic acid can help with stimulating BDNF, building new neural pathways, and optimize signaling between neurons for improved cognition.
DHA supplementation also positively affects vital neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, glutamate, and dopamine.
These mood and motivation-enhancing chemicals can help with symptom management of conditions like depression and anxiety. Also, research shows that depression and anxiety are often linked to chronic brain inflammation.
Nutrient deficiencies in omega 3s have been linked to the less-than-optimal release of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters, when paired with brain inflammation, can play a significant role in depression and anxiety.
But when you supplement with DHA, it can reduce excitotoxicity and help with symptom management.
Since the amount of DHA declines with age, it becomes essential to supplement this nutrient adequately to keep focus, attention, and energy intact. As such, adding DHA to your nootropic stack can help prevent the onset of age-related degenerative diseases.
Aniracetam is a synthetic nootropic used for delivering fast-acting results to enhance cognition and improve mood. Its primary function is to modulate the production and release of neurotransmitters and other brain chemicals.
Aniracetam ranks among its other documented benefits among effective memory enhancers that can improve functional memory and even reverse memory impairment. Animal studies these benefits significantly, making it an essential part of any quality nootropic stack (14).
Aniracetam is also considered one of the best nootropic supplements for enhancing focus and concentration. These effects are linked to the nootropic’s ability to improve acetylcholine and dopamine release into the system.
Another way that aniracetam works as a fantastic nootropic supplement is in the capacity of an anxiolytic. It has been observed to lower anxiety in animal models, and users of this nootropic report reduced anxiety when taking aniracetam.
Stacking aniracetam with other nootropics is common practice among the biohacking community. To improve efficacy, it is often used together with a choline source.
A basic nootropic stack is with aniracetam and a bioavailable choline source such as alpha GPC or citicoline. This combination encourages acetylcholine synthesis, which comes with various cognitive benefits and no side effects.
How To Get Started With Nootropic Stacks: The Beginner’s Guide
As seen above, many of the best nootropic ingredients deliver cognitive-enhancing effects when taken on their own but are most potent when combined with other nutrients.
The right combination or stacks create a synergy that amplifies the effects any single nootropic could have on its own.
There is a fair degree of variety when it comes to creating the best nootropic stack. You could either go with a preformulated stack or make one yourself.
Your choice will depend on the goals you aim to achieve, whether it is simply improving cognition, or do you also want to get quality sleep at night?
Many premade stacks address multiple goals quite effectively. But if your goals are more varied and diverse, you may wish to experiment with stacking yourself.
For the novice neurohacker, premade nootropic stacks are an excellent place to start. If you have no prior experience with putting together the ingredients of a nootropic stack, these off-the-shelf supplements will do the work for you.
Available as capsules or pills, these nootropic stacks are optimally dosed, taking the guesswork out of dosing.
The important consideration here is to stick with reputable brands whose products are known to deliver results. An excellent example would be Mind Lab Pro that targets every aspect of cognitive performance without presenting side effects.
If you are well-versed in creating your nootropic stack, feel free to experiment with different ingredients and dosages.
This gives you the flexibility to create your nootropic stack and improvise as you see fit. Creating your own stack may also be more economical than getting something from a big brand.
Seasoned neurohackers will often go the way of putting together nootropic supplements themselves to have more control and variety over what goes into their stack.
When trying out new combinations of nootropic ingredients, it’s essential to resist the temptation of trying everything at once.
Typically, you should include less of a nootropic supplement than you would when taken on its own. This is because most nootropics will present synergistic effects.
Natural Compounds vs Racetams or a Combination
There are two different types of nootropics that work. One is the synthetic, lab-created version such as racetams, while the second includes natural options like Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa monnieri, and Rhodiola Rosea, among many others.
Racetams are part of a family of synthetic chemicals, with each racetam being slightly from another but delivering similar effects. Neurohackers often use a combination of the two types to stack their supplements.
Popular and safe entry-level stacks combining the two can include nootropic stacks mixing alpha GPC and Piracetam or bacopa and aniracetam.
If you want to go with natural nootropics only, caffeine and l-theanine are perhaps the most popular stack to try. Or, stack Ginkgo Biloba and ginseng for nootropic effects of improved attention span, memory recall, and reduced anxiety.
Or, you could take your stacking options up a notch by going for the PAO stack.
PAO is an acronym for piracetam, aniracetam and oxiracetam. This power-packed stack amplifies the benefits of all three cognitive enhancers in intensity and duration.
However, stacking this complex is only recommended for users who know how to put together a safe nootropic stack with no serious side effects. As mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to incorporate a choline source.
Or, if you wish, you can even stack aniracetam safely with a premade nootropics stack like Mind Lab Pro.
Mind Lab Pro works as a good foundation for a stack to improve different areas of cognitive performance like memory, focus, attention, and learning. Plus, it yields energy and recovery for cognitive maintenance and repair.
Because everyone has different brain chemistry, what works for one person may not work for another.
If you find that one combination of ingredients isn’t working, you can change it up by altering the dose, changing the number of times you take the supplement, or even add or remove a nootropic from the stack to improve its function.
And while custom nootropic stacks are the best way to experience the full benefits of nootropics, if you remain unsure about stacking, choose from the vast variety of premium premade nootropic stacks available.
Nootropic stacks take neurohacking to the next level. With the best nootropic stacks, the functional impact of nootropics multiplies and delivers faster and superior results.
The perfect example of this is our premium pick, Mind Lab Pro. Using cutting-edge stacking strategies, Mind Lab Pro is a standout nootropic that optimizes multiple aspects of life.
You get a wholesome product that uses nootropics, enhancing various cognitive skills with no single taskers included.
We recommend Mind Lab Pro to everyone searching for a top-tier preformulated stack that is a solid choice for both new and seasoned biohackers.